11 Nov 2012

Coronation Street star Bill Tarmey dies

6:35 am on 11 November 2012

Actor Bill Tarmey, who played Jack Duckworth in ITV soap opera Coronation Street, has died.

His family confirmed the 71-year-old died in Tenerife, Spain, on Friday, the BBC reports.

Tarmey left the soap in 2010 after more than 30 years in the show.

A statement from Coronation Street said the cast, crew and production team were "devastated" to learn of his death.

Liz Dawn, who played his nagging on-screen wife Vera Duckworth, told the BBC the actor would be remembered by everyone he came into contact with because he was such a kind and generous man.

For Tarmey's final appearance on the programme two years ago, Jack and Vera were reunited one last time when they appeared to dance together as a dying Jack drifted in and out of consciousness.

In 2010, Tarmey published his autobiography, Jack Duckworth And Me, which charted his life from growing up in the slums of Manchester through to working as a singer in local nightclubs before landing a role on the Street in 1979.

He said: "I've loved sharing my life with Jack. I'm not sure whether he has liked sharing his with me, though!"

As well as suffering ill health himself, Tarmey eventually left Coronation Street to help care for his son Carl, who was battling a brain tumour.

A life-long heavy smoker, Tarmey suffered a severe heart attack at just 35 while singing on stage and had heart surgery to bypass clogged arteries at 45, having the operation redone 15 years later.

He also suffered from sleep apnoea, a condition that resulted in him jolting awake several times a night due to breathing problems.

Tarmey was married to his childhood sweetheart Alison for 50 years and they had two children.